Friday, 13 October 2017

Here Comes The Sun

I am going to start my newest article with an illustration that I like to use to make my case for Solar Energy to my Christian brothers and sisters. I need to do this because some of them still don't believe that solar power is the right way for humanity.

However; if reading messages from the Bible bothers you, then you may not like my illustration. So you may kindly skip to the next paragraph to continue reading my non-biblical arguments. :-)

So, my favorite illustration for renewables is as follows:


Above VS Below

Take the two types of energy sources used in the world, renewable sources (mainly solar and wind) and fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas). 
One type of energy source comes from deep under the ground. 
4000 to 6000 feet - Men dig deep into the belly of the earth. Closer to "hell" than some of you might like.
They do this to extract the dead
I meant that literally.
Fossil fuels are just that. Dead creatures and plants.

Anyway, it turns out that men have been powering the world using the dead for so long. 
We dig up the dead from 6000 feet beneath the earth, and we BURN them to use them as energy.

Now let us compare for a moment.

The source of energy that I want us to focus on is from above. The sun. 
A gigantic ball of blinding light. A kind of consuming fire if you like.
It is fire that was not invented by men, and it has been pu there even long before there were men. It is so bright that it brightens the earth in a way that no fluorescent light or LED bulb could ever dream of.  And now it promises us unlimited, sustainable and FREE energy. 
A photo of the sun as a mighty and giant angel. Picture credit: https://www.guideposts.org/inspiration/angels/angels-escort-a-loved-one-to-heaven
So once again, one power source comes from deep under the earth, and is made up of the dead. i.e. the fossilized remains of prehistoric animals and plants.

The other power source comes from above. (GEN 1:16) It gives to us freely everyday, and its heat is even responsible for the large winds that also produce another kind of renewable power. (see John 3:8). 
So Solar and Wind energy come from above and are clean. But men prefer to burn the remains of the dead below. (I am sure that those of you who are Christians understand why I keep emphasizing the words "dead" "below" and "burn") Lol.

Anyway let us leave bible class, and look at the global understanding of the problem....

Paleontologists teach us that the crude oil, natural gas and coal, that most of the world use for energy today, are derived from fossils. Fossils are the remains of dead animals and plants that died millions of years ago. 
Scientists tell us that when animals die, they very slowly decay,  and as they are exposed to heat, along with plants around them, they are gradually broken down into large deposits of carbon and hydrogen - called hydrocarbons. The stuff that we get from coal, oil and natural gas.

This is why they are called fossil fuels, because they are burned in order to generate electricity for our use.
However, scientists believe that burning them is causing a dangerous problem known as climate change.
And if you haven't heard about this phenomenon before or have never paid attention to it, they say it is really bad.

So here is a very layman's explanation of how climate change is happening:


The Problem:

Adaeze is hungry. She decides to start cooking bitter-leaf soup with a kerosene stove. Kerosene is gotten from refined crude oil (a fossil fuel).
As she cooks, Adaeze's room gradually starts to get warmer and warmer.
She quickly opens her two small windows and the door, and the room quickly cools down as a reasonable amount of the heat escapes from the small room, and some cool breeze enter.

Unfortunately, two minutes later, her sister and her 2 cousins enter into the room as well. And they are also hungry. So they start to cook their own food with a larger pot and a larger burner.

Despite the fact that the door and windows are open, there is more heat being generated by the larger fire (since it is a larger heat source), and also by 4 people breathing in the remaining cool air in the room and breathing out their warm CO2 in that small room that Adaeze lives in.


This is a caricature of what scientists tell us is happening to the earth through Global Warming. The CO2 that we are pumping into our atmosphere is growing rapidly as more and more people burn more and more fossil fuels to create more and more electricity and to drive more and more cars. There are other generators of CO2 (like livestock) but those are not important for this article. 


Because mankind has finally realized that we cannot go on destroying the earth with excessive CO2 gases, and because we also know that these fossil fuels will eventually run out, mankind is now moving aggressively towards renewable energy generation.

And eventhough a lot of people still erroneously think that renewable energy sources like wind are solar are too expensive, those who are paying full attention to the details are marching on fearlessly into the future. 
I want you young Africa (Digital Africa) to be a part of that march.


Your Role In The Revolution?

Okay, so now that you are on board, let me tell you what you need to be doing...

As a young woman or man (boy or girl) who subscribes to the Digital Africa way of thinking, who is future oriented, and who is always eager to learn, you need to be very actively keeping up with what is happening in the renewable energy industry around the world, in modern energy storage, as well as in the world of electric vehicles.

Whether or not our governments in Africa or our big businesses are paying adequate attention to these three massive future arenas should not affect your resolve to take this piece of advice.
Because, if you think about it, when has the rest of the world ever asked for Africa's permission before it moved on to the future?

So I am asking you to prepare yourself.
Now, some of you that are not yet familiar with my writings may ask, "why should we prepare?" or "prepare for what exactly?" 

Well, it's not that easy to explain....
Think back to 1992 or thereabouts, when you first heard some people in Lagos going around saying that everybody needed to become computer literate. 

Or, around 1996, when many people started talking about the internet, the global village, and the "information super highway". Most of those folks never truly understood what they were talking about. But imagine if your parents or older siblings had heeded their call, or if you immediately got up and worked very hard to learn all you could possibly learn about computers and about using the internet. 
And certainly not for fun or for the novelty of it all, but for the major purpose of believing that what you were learning then was going to help you get some strategic advantage in the future? 

What if you had already learned HTML and CSS to a competent level by year 1998? Imagine how good your web designs would be by now? Most likely, you would have gone on to add other skills like Python, Javascript and SQL to your arsenal by now. And perhaps you would not feel even the least bit intimidated about learning Machine Learning by now.
This would have made you in very high demand all over the world, and a candidate for some of the highest paying jobs on the planet. 

Yes, what if?

So again, I am asking you to prepare yourself.

Use the free information on the internet to dive into the facts behind the fiction that fashions the future.
Don't just be like the majority of people that like to say meaningless cliches like, "Oh for sure, solar is the future", and not actually knowing what they are talking about. 
Be eager and determined to get a clearer picture of what are these things that are supposedly coming. 

And even if you are not an engineer (let's say you are a bloody social scientist [ like I am ] ) you may still discover opportunities in the coming renewable revolution that do not require you to have engineering skills. It is about using what you have (your enriched mind) to get what you want (a seat at the table in the future).

Okay, you know what? If that didn't make much sense to you.... Or if you think there cannot be any possible opportunities for you in a future energy related industry, then tell me in the comments section below, and will show you that, even if you are an undergraduate in English Department, you can still learn enough about the future of energy and transportation to give you opportunities when the time comes.

In Conclusion


So, going back to my illustration, the next time you see the sun rise in the morning, remember what I told you about energy from above and energy from beneath.
If you are a Nigerian, consider how much you have suffered at the hands of NEPA (others, think about your power companies).
Ask yourself, is so difficult to see a future where the whole world is powered by the sun and the 4 winds of heaven?

This is an intro.
My next article would contain more specifics:
I would talk about the solar energy business in America, I would talk about battery storage, and I will talk about the world changing Tesla electric cars.
Do check back here in about 2 weeks.
But until then, you can go through this article about a statement from Bill Gates that has created a dangerous mistake made by some Nigerian billionaires, even though Gates himself no longer holds the position. See that here ► Article about Bill Gates And Energy.

Also consider following this blog for monthly updates if you are not already following it. Click here  ► to follow the Digital Africa blog

Also connect with me on:

Google Plus (my office) ► Google.com/+RotimiOrims

Twitter ► RealOrims, on Facebook ► Solar Plus Power

and on ► Quora

Use my hashtag to keep up with my renewable energy and electric car related posts on social media = #StoredSun

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Enhancing Economic Growth In Africa Through Technology

To be more specific, this article is about 
enhancing economic growth through people using technology that is mostly derived from, or related to, the internet.

I hope this article will help you, if you are a young African, to become a more pro-active and progressive user of the internet. In other words, I want you to finish reading this article and decide that you would drastically reduce the amount of time that you spend on Facebook idolizing Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Also that you would curb the amount of time you spend playing games on your phone, or creating and forwarding unconfirmed information on Whatsapp.

Instead, I need you to think seriously about HOW you can use your devices (your smart phones, your tablets and your laptops) as vehicles that move you faster towards achieving your goals in life.

As a matter of fact, for those of you who know, in your hearts, that you have not set any real goals yet; using your devices properly could actually help you to discover what your goals should be, and continuously help you to refine those goals.

So the natural question that I would expect from you now is for you to ask me, "How?" 

"How can I use my smartphone or my laptop to reach my goals, or to set goals for myself?"

Information Is​ Power:

Answering questions like this one is exactly why Digital Africa was created. So stay with us (follow this blog) as I attempt the answer:


Enhance!

It was actually my friend and favorite blogger, Joy Isa, that asked me to write this article to "change the perceptions of Nigerian youth about the value of digital networking", as she wrote, in a Hangouts' message. 

She confessed that I had successfully changed her mind about the Web, and that I had convinced her that there was some value in networking online. 
I had indeed gotten her to join Google+, and she has been trying since then to be more active on that platform. 
She started her blog, she joined a few G+ communities for bloggers and writers, and she has even overcome some of her online shyness by joining a few conversations with strangers on the g+ platform. Of which live in many different parts of the world.

But, clearly, with this question, she is still not sure of the value in all of this.
So my post here will try to re-address my claims again. But this time I want everyone of you to pay attention.


The Effect Of The Network

In my opinion, the greatest value that the internet brought to us is the ability to communicate with anybody in the world, anywhere in the world, and at anytime of the day.
Seriously, think about it for a few minutes.

Your first reaction may be to think that the telephone did this very well before the internet came along, right?
Yes indeed it did. However, the internet adds two things to that communication miracle that the telephone never could:


1. The ability to instantly discover information from heterogeneous sources. 
2. The ability to recover information from conversations that happened days or years in the past.

Oftentimes this info comes with variety to choose from, can be very timely, and it can often give you the ability to give feedback to the publisher/curator of the information. 

You couldn't just pick up your phone and talk to the President of the US before, right?

No. 
But now you can mention him in a tweet. 
Now, I'm not saying that you have a good chance of getting a response from him. But it is possible. If Your tweet strokes his ego well enough, he could respond or retweet your tweet. And who knows what else could happen from there.

You couldn't pick up your phone and call an astronaut for information about some of the more mundane tasks that they carry out while in space. Today, you can follow Samantha Cristofioretti on Google+ and literally keep up with her minute by minute activities on the international space station.
And get your questions in with a chance to get her reply
All you need is to think of a problem today, and you can probably instantly find a solution to it offered online.  Well not saying that all info online would be correct or truthful. 
Chances are, somebody somewhere else in the world had already thought of solving that problem, and has also shared how they solved it in a blog - or through a social media post that can be discovered through a Google search.


But unfortunately, many of us are seriously underrating the gravity of these things. And that is why we do not really take advantage of them the way we should.


My Networks My Journey

When I began my current journey, I had this strong desire to "get to the future" before most people in the world. The plan was to quickly plant my feet firmly within an industry that had a massive potential globally, but was not yet competitive in Nigeria. 
My friend introduced me to digital print marketing, and a chance to sell the first Kodak Nexpress digital colour printing press in Nigeria.



I wrapped my soul with zeal and flung myself at this opportunity, because I knew that if things did not work out there, digital printing was not far from digital marketing (which I was already "flirting" with - however, from afar).
So after several years of very sluggish growth in the digital printing world, Kodak sent an Italian Nexpress business developer to give us presentations on how to create a market for the Nexpress.

I learnt a ton on that occassion, but most of all, the Italian dude from Kodak (Salvatore Massaro) introduced me to 2 things that would soon become pivotal to my present life:
Search Engine Optimization and Google Plus.
I became flat-out ravenous for all the information I could find SEO, while I constantly followed the conversations of the most popular SEOs that were on Google Plus.
My zeal was able to push me to throw away all reservations and bashfulness, and work myself into the conversations of these experts of SEO. 

I was eventually able to get the attention of the most legendary name in SEO: One of the pioneers of the craft! He is the Black Knight: Sir Ammon Johns. Networking with Ammon Johns got me to connect with many other awesome people from the digital marketing world. These connections extended my reach into the Semantic Web 

The value of this was that I always had easy access to the very latest information in my chosen industry.
The high level of know-how possessed by these people I was now keeping company (keeping virtual company that is) with, boosted my own ability to learn and understand how things worked on the world wide web.

I cannot stress how much you can potentially gain from merely maintaining conversation with the right people (on the right topics) on Google Plus. And I had never found this type of richness from LinkedIn or Facebook.  
   

Marketing is research, research and more research.
A lot of people know that they can do some very powerful research on Google search these days. The kind of research they could not have gotten even by paying lots of money to research consultancy companies a few years ago.

However, many people still do not know how to use free Google search's Advanced Features. Even less know about using search operator functions.   







Finally, I did promise that I was going to share a little bit about what I plan to do with Digital Africa.





The 





Points:- 
1. the core needs of biological creatures are always the same—to self-preserve and reproduce. So optimization in the natural world always has the same definition: to adjust in a way that makes you mostly likely to self-preserve and reproduce.

But for people whose base needs are being met, what are the yearning desires that then lie at the core of their motivation? What does “pursuing your self-interest” mean for them?

2. Individual people are greedy as a means to all kinds of ends—a lavish lifestyle, personal freedom, security, admiration, power, sex—but what they want is irrelevant. As long as their burning desire makes them really want stuff, their drive to optimize will move technology forward

3. 




My American Myth Guides:-
1. The Mob at the Gates:

this represents the fear that unless America is constantly on it's guard, it will be overrun by the barbarians just outside our walls who want to rob us of our hard-won riches. This myth 




Bettina Warburg (TED talk: How The Blockchain Will Radically Transform The Economy")     2:01 - 2:25:

"As our societies grew more complex, and our trade routes grew more distant ( My mind took it from here - but I had started thinking about Elon Musk, humans colonizing other galaxies, and the complexity of the brain to learn as much as is possible, to be wealthy, while simplifying things for other people - I thought of these before I actually heard her say it)....we built up more formal institutions" 









= Advanced eliptic curve applications= Applied Schnore signatures
= Ring signatures
= Range proofs for confidential transactions

The essence of bitcoin is not bockchain.
It is the ability to operate in a decentralized way without having to trust anyone. 
The ability to use software to authoritatively, independently without appeal to authority, verify everything yourself.


Friday, 2 June 2017

Paris Agreement Exit: Who Do You Think Is Smarter?

Hey guys, I am still angry about yesterday's news. 

If you know me very well, and you follow some of my articles and posts on social media, then you would know what got me angry. *cough* #ParisAgreement Exit. *cough*.

Anyway, to cool off, I thought I would do some research.
Yes. 

That is how I relax.
By doing research (the life of a Google power user).


Anyway, please let me know what you think about Trump's decision to exit the Paris Agreement? 

Kindly read these tweets from these CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the USA, then consider the decision of the King of Reality TV and Twitter, and tell me which camp is wiser....



















There were many others.


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Car Electronics

With this quick article, I hope to challenge and encourage as many young Africans as possible to consider pursuing careers in the field of electronics, and in its sub-field of car electronics in particular. I also hope that this might somehow get to some African leaders who are in the position to affect policies that encourage these youngsters in those pursuits.

My desire is that our beautiful continent begins to produce more and more young engineers that can help us to reduce our over-dependence on the rest of the world (and especially Asia) for electronic equipment and appliances.

The Curious Social Scientist

I know that I am just a bloody social scientist, and I hated science subjects back in school. So what could I possibly know about electronics?

Well, it turns out, I have somehow gotten really interested in many areas of technology and science these days. It really started with my infatuation with the Semantic Web, then solar energy and future battery technology (which I call #StoredSun). So when I first learned about electric cars needing advanced batteries, I became hooked on the technology behind those as well.


Electronics For The Lay Man

So my current understanding is that electronics is an offspring of both Electrical Engineering, and the science of Physics.  
In electronics, engineers are mainly building devices that exploit and manipulate the power of electricity and electric charges. Please if you have an even simpler definition that even the dumbest social scientist or artist can understand, I would love it if you shared that definition in the comments below. Thank you.

So, when you look into my definition (hopefully it is correct), you can see that the idea is to competently understand how electricity affects various objects so that we can make those objects work for us in a useful and safe way. The more engineers learn about the nature of electricity and the way it affects physical objects, the better they can build gadgets that make our lives easier.



Africa & Electronics


But if these things can be learned, then why aren't we learning them? Or why is the enabling environment seemingly non-existent in most of the African continent? What is our private sector waiting for? Why do our governments not care about stimulating such interests?

There are so many areas where the study and practice of electronics can be applied to generate wealth for our people. Among these are areas such as manufacture of mobile phones, computers, Ultra HD television sets, digital media players, most hospital equipment, and even home appliances like washing machines and microwave ovens.

I am not talking about being proud of watching the news and hearing a report about one solitary African that built one electronic device. Or of hearing of one computer that was completely manufactured in one African country.
No.


Those are good news indeed. But what we want is an entire burgeoning industry.


However, I am going to focus on one particular area that I am certain is going to present a huge opportunity for Africans who will eventually go into this field:
I am talking about car electronics.


Electronics In Cars And Electronic Cars


Statista estimates that there are approximately 1.2 billion cars and commercial vehicles in use around the world today. Practically all of these cars have some form of electronic system or another at work within them.
In fact, as the automobile industry has matured, we have seen that cars are being built with electronic systems increasingly replacing the mechanical systems within them.


By these mechanical systems being replaced, I am referring to most of the cars that we see on our roads, and are typically built with an internal combustion engine.
In these ICE cars, the engine runs by burning a mixture of air and fuel to produce the thrust of the car.
Engineers achieve this by using techniques from smaller divisions of mechanics like Fluid Mechanics, Dynamics and Kinematics (i.e. the area of mechanics that deals with gears and gear boxes)

But like I said already, a lot of these systems are either being replaced by electronic systems, or being enhanced by mixing in electronics with the mechanical aspects.


Car Electronics

Car Electronics range from transmission ( gear shifting) electronics to things like car entertainment systems and electronic braking systems.
Also take note of the current hype around electronic intelligent parking systems and self-driving systems in cars these days.

And with other technologies coming in from the computer and internet world, like artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is easy to see the direction in which the automobile industry is moving.
Things are getting more and more electronic than ever before.

A typical electronic car stereo in a modern car. Image courtesy of https://www.clublexus.com/forums/ct-200h-model-2011-present/656439-loving-the-car-stereo.html
What used to only have its place in the car's stereo system, now features in other parts like seats, the steering, the transmission, the air bag, the doors, even the glass.


Electronic devices first started to appear in the insides of cars, but eventually started to spread outward to underneath the hood, and who knows where else tomorrow. Every component in the future automobile could potentially be completely electronic. 

Therefore if you are young engineering and science student in Africa today, I would strongly encourage you to seriously look into this area as a major goal before, during, and after you even get into the university or before you choose your major.


It is good to consider the number of cars currently in use around the world, as mentioned above. Then consider that this number is expected to increase tremendously as populations continue to grow in third world countries, and the size of their economies grow likewise. But also because more people around the world get educated, gain global access and exposure through the world wide web, and become more sophisticated in their needs as standards of living continue upwards.


Electric Cars

Therefore as cars and buses and trucks have evolved over the years, a lot of the working parts within them have steadily evolved into electronic parts.
But what is more profound is the fact that the actual engines of the cars themselves are now becoming completely electric.
Tesla Model S. Full Electric Vehicle. Seen here plugged into its charging kit that easily works with any AC outlet in your home, office or anywhere. Photo courtesy of Tesla.com 

Many of these electric powered cars today still use a combination of electric and mechanical drive trains - aptly called Hybrid cars.
Yet, recent popular participants like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla cars have come out as purely electric.
The success of Nissan's Leaf, and the huge success of the Tesla brand is pushing automobile manufacturers to look in that direction for the future.


One of the trends that is driving this paradigm shift is the hybrid car phenomenon I already mentioned above.

There are indeed already many hybrid cars in Europe and America that use a combination of an internal combustion engine as well as electric power from a large battery to propel the car and economize fuel. These hybrids have steadily evolved, and modern hybrids are getting better and better at minimizing the need for fuel.
But this evolution is progressive.


From HEV to PHEV to EV

Once upon a time, HEVs or Hybrid Electric Vehicles simply used a large battery that is charged by the power produced by the ICE (internal combustion Engine) engine, and then gives back that power to the car to help reduce the car’s reliance on fuel, and save lots of money on fuel costs.


The next phase saw Plug-In Electric Vehicles or PHEVs, which used larger batteries, and charged these batteries BOTH with power from the ICE engine, and also through charging cables that bring in power from any electric source including the AC outlet of your home.

PHEVs are usually more energy efficient than HEVs. Depending on how far the car is being driven, most PHEVs will go many miles without needing to take power from their ICE engines or burn any fuel.
As a matter of fact, the logic behind a PHEV is that the fuel-based engine should only serve as a backup.
Chevrolet's Volt. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (or PHEV). Image curtesy of http://www.hybridcars.com/2017-chevy-volt-will-offer-adaptive-cruise-control/ 

These (PHEVs) in my opinion, are the critical bridge to the future. It is why many are convinced that it is only a matter of time that fuel consuming cars will become completely impractical and unappealing to the consumer.


You can watch an ongoing experiment of this PHEV -> EV shift in the following example:

General Motors of America, who had first built the successful Chevrolet Volt (a PHEV), are going a step further with a new all-electric car they call the Bolt (a full-EV car).
The success and popularity of the Volt (which was designed by a Nigerian Jelani Aliyu) is expected to boost the transition of Hybrid electric vehicles (or HEV) into Plug-In Electric Hybrid Vehicles (or PHEV).

So the progression looks like this:
ICE -> HEV -> PHEV -> EV
As you move from left to right, there is a decreasing reliance on fuel, and a greater reliance on plugging into electricity.
But when you think about the ease and comfort of charging your phones and laptops at home or at work, then it begins to become clearer that this progression is almost certainly going to happen.
The question is, "how soon"?

Perhaps the answer is in the fact that there is this new and unprecedented and clearly authentic appeal for electric cars (thanks mostly to Tesla Motors). Plus the fact that battery technology is developing at a fast pace, and batteries are growing in their ability to pack more and more power into smaller spaces, while working on increasing their life-cycles and charging speeds.
Also the fact that self-driving cars are on the horizon (thanks to Tesla, Google, Apple and Uber) and EV technology seems to be the the only suitable match for them.
These scenarios all collaborate to speed up the eventual extinction of gasoline powered cars. So my answer would be, "sooner than you think".

So my question would be; at what point should Africa join this revolution?

Now, for sure!

We need to encourage our kids to acquire skills in electrical engineering, in electronics as a whole, and in car electronics in particular.
There are immediate gains that could come from developing electronic systems and devices within existing ICE cars. But there are even huger rewards that will come from taking part in building the PHEVs and full electric cars (EVs) of the near future.

We need African governments to aggressively incentivize engineering and technology studies to make this happen as quickly as possible. To produce Africans like Jelani Aliyu. a new breed of young Africans that will aspire to not only do auto design, but also electric powertrain engineering and battery charging innovations.

I honestly believe that every time a major technological revolution is about to occur, it potentially gives those who were previously disadvantaged a chance to close the gap a little.
The transition to the new paradigm is expected to prove quite painful for incumbent big car manufacturers like Toyota, Mercedes, Ford, etc.
Therefore we, Africa, who had not been serious participants in then old automotive shindigs, should gleefully march into the new one.
Right?

Please, let us think hard about this!


Conclusion

Finally, if you are a frequent reader of my future-oriented articles here on Digital Africa, you may have noticed that I am a huge fan of Tesla Motors.
Here is an article from the CEO of Tesla that I think may inspire you the way it has inspired an old social scientist like me to become an enthusiastic advocate of science and technology. (>>> see that short article here <<<)
I wrote an article on LinkedIn about Elon Musk that reveals some depth of the vertically integrated empire he is building. (>>> See that one here <<<)

Also if you are a frequent reader of many of my future oriented articles here on Digital Africa, you would quickly understand that I am trying to get you to prepare yourself or your children and grand children for such a time.
Our student engineers should understand the kind of opportunity that could easily await them in this brave new world of electronic devices and electronic transportation systems, if only they make the right choices today.
But also, if we and our leaders make the right choices for them!

Friends, the internet hasn't just changed the world. It is changing it even more still.
And not so many are paying attention to these current changes. There is much to learn, but there is indeed huge incentive for us to learn it. Please let us push our leaders in this direction because whatever wealth we may have from natural resources (like oil) is only a shadow of the past.
Think about it.